Player Profile - Jamie Vardy

The Meteoric Rise Of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy

Personal information
Full name: Jamie Richard Vardy
Date of birth: 11 January 1987 
Age: 28
Place of birth: Sheffield, England
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Playing position: Striker

Club information
Current team: Leicester City
Number: 9

Youth career
2002: Sheffield Wednesday
2003–2007: Stocksbridge Park Steels

Senior career
2007–2010: Stocksbridge Park Steels 107 Appearances, 66 goals 
2010–2011: FC Halifax Town 41 Appearances, 29 goals
2011–2012 Fleetwood Town 40 Appearances, 34 goals 
2012– Leicester City 116 Appearances, 36 goals

National team
2015– England 4 Appearances, 0 goals

A hard-working striker that scored goals at a prolific rate in non-league football with Fleetwood Town, Vardy has enjoyed a phenomenal last two seasons with the Foxes. He has plundered nine in as many appearances, three more than anyone else, and is now getting the praise and credit he deserves for blazing such a trail at the start of this campaign. Roy Hodgson thinks extremely highly of Vardy, with the England manager surprising many by calling him up at the end of last season and giving him four caps between now and then, but wider recognition seems harder to come by, so much so that Vardy could be forgiven for thinking how different it would be if one of the Premier League’s A-listers had scored at a similar rate at the start of this term. 

Following his release from boyhood idols Sheffield Wednesday as a teenager, Vardy began his path back to the professional game with South Yorkshire club Stocksbridge Park Steels, making his senior debut in 2007 and enjoying a successful three years with the club. He joined Halifax Town in June 2010 and strengthened his growing reputation with 27 goals as the Shaymen won promotion to the Blue Square Bet North, but Vardy would go one step further when he joined ambitious Fleetwood Town in the Blue Square Bet Premier for a substantial fee that summer. He proved an inspired signing for the Cod Army, hitting 34 goals in 40 appearances, as Micky Mellon's team stormed to promotion to the Football League as Conference champions with over a century of points. But Vardy’s performances meant a move to a higher level was inevitable and it was Leicester that won the race, snapping him up on a three-year deal. The dangerous striker opened his Foxes account on his debut, netting the final goal in a 4-0 win over Torquay United in a League Cup first round tie and eventually going on to make 29 appearances during 2012/13, scoring five times. 

Vardy became a huge favourite with fans and team-mates in 2013/14 for his typically energetic and all-action displays on the field, showing that he had well and truly found his feet in the division. As well as winning seven penalties thanks to his pace and willingness to run at defenders, Vardy scored an impressive 16 goals alongside David Nugent in the City attack – including a memorable strike against Queens Park Rangers in December. It was a similar success story in the Premier League for Vardy too, as he announced his arrival with a brilliant goal to give Leicester City a 4-3 lead in their famous 5-3 victory over Manchester United in September 2014. His performance levels reached new heights in the back end of the campaign and his stoppage time winner away at West Bromwich Albion will live long in the memory for all City fans. That form eventually saw him named in Roy Hodgson’s England squad for fixtures against the Republic of Ireland and Slovenia in June 2015. His international debut then came in Dublin as a second half substitute for England captain Wayne Rooney. 

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An aggressive runner who never gives defenders any peace, Vardy is much more than a predator who comes to life in the penalty area, and Leicester have reaped the rewards of playing to his strengths. He is a constant menace and thrives in a team that presses high up the pitch, acting as Leicester’s first defender when they are without the ball and, by playing on the last man’s shoulder, the focal point of their attack once in possession.

His transformation from this season to last, when he came good towards the end but scored only once in his first 24 Premier League appearances, has been startling and there are several factors behind the turnaround. Among them is the fact that Vardy has flourished since being used as an out-and-out striker, rather than deployed out wide, which is where he often found himself in the first half of last season under and also the role that Hodgson had in mind when he started him wide on the left in the Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania. Vardy had his moments on the flank last season, most memorably in what he describes as the game of his life, when he ran Manchester United ragged in that extraordinary 5-3 victory at the King Power Stadium 13 months ago, but he is not a winger and never will be. Playing him through the middle leaves the opposition much more exposed to his pace and allows Vardy to have a far greater influence on the game.

Yet those who have closely followed Vardy on a remarkable journey that started with Stocksbridge Park Steels in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League will point – with some justification – to his position at the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts and his place in the England squad, and argue that he has long since answered all the questions that have been asked of him.